Embracing Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve eve. I’m blissfully in my bed, heating pad on my back, fan oscillating on the floor, thinking about Christmas and what this season is now and what it has been in the past, and what I long for it to be again.

I’ve long loved Christmas. The lights. The music. The wonder and magic. When our girls were little it was the moments of trying to create memories with them. It was sitting by the decorated tree at night after they had gone to bed. It was opening our advent tree and nightly devotional readings building up to the birth of the Christ-child throughout the month of December. It was building gingerbread houses that made me want to cuss like a sailor, making sugar cookies with the girls and my mom, decorating the tree, shopping for gifts, and thinking of that special magical thing for them and Matt to each open on Christmas morning. Christmas was a truly magical, mystical time of year. Our old house made it feel even more whimsical and nostalgic with its grand staircase and giant rooms that only felt full at the holidays.

And then life changed. We moved and our girls grew older and Christmas has less mystery and anticipation. We go to school now, which means others dictate our schedules and December feels less like this slowing down and embracing the advent and more like barrelling into the holiday with a mad screeching stop on Christmas Eve, everyone panting and clutching their chests and hoping to regain composure before the return to school in early January. These changes are not bad; in many ways they are good. But this time of year I am painfully aware of how our lives have changed in the past few years. I don’t often miss having everyone at home all the time, but December is one of those seasons where I miss being able to intentionally slow life down.

As I have gone about the hustle and bustle the past few weeks, thinking of the pressure we put on ourselves to experience peace and wonder and magic this time of year I have been challenged to embrace the peace that comes from simply accepting a season of life. I cannot do away with the girls’ Christmas concerts or parties or finals or all of the other things that inevitably hit in the closing weeks of each year, but I can learn to embrace them and accept them. I can choose to fight against the insanity or I can choose to just roll with it, and I find rolling with it to often be the most peaceful response. I know that January is coming and for a few weeks, cold and dark will settle in and life will be a little bit slower. That is when I can know peace and rest. I don’t need to force myself or my family to experience peace at Christmas time. There is a season for that. This isn’t that season for us. Instead, teaching them to embrace the schedules that are sometimes thrust upon us is a gift in itself and one I can lead them well in if I’m willing to die to my own desire for what December should look like.

Tomorrow will be Christmas Eve. We will wake and have coffee. I will go to the gym and we will go to church and then celebrate with my family. Matt and I will come home and likely sit in front of our tree with a glass of wine, mentally preparing for Christmas day. I love Christmas. The giving of gifts, the spirit behind it all, the family, the gathering…..it’s a treasure. But it’s not THE treasure. I am reminded that the gifts do not take the place of THE Gift. Jesus came and that’s what it’s all about. None of the rest of it matters. May our focus be on Him in the coming days and may we love others the way He has loved us.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara